İmamoğlu accuses Turkey's top religious body of using mosques as political grounds

The opposition mayor of Istanbul on Monday accused the state’s top religious body of using mosques for politics after the Religious Affairs Directorate addressed the country’s youth in its Friday sermon across the country amid ongoing student protest over the new rector of Boğaziçi University.

The directorate is "continuing to conduct politics 24/7,’’ Birgün newspaper cited Ekrem İmamoğlu as saying, and this Friday gave "morality lessons," to students at a time when "efforts are being exerted to understand the frustration of Boğaziçi students.’’

"Youth, if benefitted well from, will win a person both this life and the afterlife,’’ imams in Turkey said in last Friday’s directorate-determined sermon read across Turkey’s mosques. “Otherwise, the will transform in the years that are recalled with a sense of regret.’’

The sermon went on to praise Turkey's youth for "never surrendering the country to traitors,’’ including following the 2016 coup attempt.

İmamoğlu said he wished the directorate would instead ask "why two out of three university graduates in the country are unemployed," or "why up to 75 percent of youth would like to leave the country if given the choice.’’

The directorate should ask Allah to "grant our youth a government that does not divide them or use terms like ‘terrorist’ to describe them,’’ the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayor said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called students partaking in over month-long demonstrations against the appointment of a government-linked rector to Boğaziçi, “terrorists.”

Turkish police have arrested nine people over protests against the appointment of Melih Bulu, an academic and former political candidate with Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Hundreds of other demonstrators have been released after their detentions.